Banking-Related Phishing Scams increased by more than 2,500% in Singapore in first half of 2020
As compared to the same period in 2019, the total number of banking-related scams increased by more than 2,500% this year and it ranks the fourth-highest number of reported cases among all scam types. In addition to the rise number of cases, the total amount cheated increased from S$93,000 to S$3.6 million. In a news release, police highlighted an incident in January when a victim was cheated of S$506,000, making it the largest sum cheated in a single case in the first half of this year. The victim had provided his one-time passwords (OTPs) to scammers who claimed to be employees from local banks.
Overall crime in Singapore rose by about 11 per cent in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period last year, mainly due to a rise in scam cases. The police have also shared that criminals have been taking advantage of the COVID-19 situation to find new victims, by exploiting the public’s fear and sense of uncertainty. Scammers are using platforms like IMO, viber and Whatsapp to communicate with their victims.
Making up 71 per cent of the top 10 types of scams, E-commerce scams, social media impersonation scams, loan scams and banking-related phishing scams are “of particular concern”. Ecommerce scams remain the top scam type:
- Reported cases increased by 73.8 per cent from 1,202 in the first half of last year to 2,089 this year.
- Total amount cheated increased to $5.4 million, up from S$1 million in the same period last year, with the larget sum of S$175,000 in a single case on an e-commerce marketplace.
The total amount cheated increased to S$5.4 million, up from S$1 million in the same period last year, with the largest sum of S$175,000 in a single case on an e-commerce marketplace. The common scam transactions involved sales of electronic items, gaming-related items and of course, the 2 essential items in 2020 – masks and sanitizers.
Social media impersonation scam is next on the charts, with 1,175 cases being reported in 2020 as compared to 83 reported cases in 2019. According to the authorities, one victim was cheated of S$367,000. She responded to a link on a purported monetary grant sent by her friend via facebook messenger, and provided her personal details such as bank account number and transferred about S$367,000 to an unknown person.
The police have warned that scammers would often impersoate victims' friends or followers on Facebook and Instagram, claiming to help the victims sign up for online contests or promotions and trick victims into disclosing their mobile numbers or credit card information and OTPs. The victims would later discover that unauthorized transactions have been made from their bank account or mobile wallets.
Loans scams have also increased – by the number of cases as well as the amount cheated. The amount has tripled. As compared to 2019 in the same period, loan scams have increased by 56 per cent to 1,014 cases this year.
The authorities urged business operators such as banks, digital platform owners and telcos to put in place anti-scam measures to prevent, deter and detect crimes committed through their platforms and keep their customers safe from scams.
At StarHub, we have a robust security team monitoring such phishing or scam sites and taking measures to block these domains from our own network or even escalating to the web hosting company to take down the site. We urge our customers to:
- Stay vigilant and learnt to protect yourself from being scammed
- Keep up-to-date on recent scams and look out for signs if you ever find yourself caught in one
- Share these scam tactics and tips with your friends and family who might be vulnerable to these scams
Stay safe, everyone!